Since its inception in 2012, BLOCS has existed for one purpose – to build a better life for the youth in our community. And while much of that time was spent putting infrastructure in place and building a solid foundation, BLOCS has also enjoyed a number of important accomplishments. Last year, we found that youth in our highest quality programs are:
6% more likely to reach growth projections in MAP Math compared to their counterparts in lower-quality programs
3% more likely to reach their growth projections in MAP Reading compared to their counterparts in lower-quality programs
Improving 73% of their youth in social-emotional learning competencies over the course of a year
Experiencing lower suspension rates compared to their counterparts in lower-quality programs
Attending school at a rate of 94% (JCPS avg. 93%)
OST is a Violence Prevention Strategy!
OST can have a strong, positive impact on violence prevention. Adolescent mental and emotional well-being is associated with teens’ environments. Links have been found consistently between teens’ well-being and environments that are emotionally positive and warm and that provide support for developing adolescent autonomy. When youth don’t feel emotionally safe and supported, it can lead to risky behaviors.
OST is a Workforce Development Strategy!
Workforce development is another critical area in the community where OST can have a strong, positive impact. In addition to improving basic reading, writing, and math skills, workers also need to develop skills in communication, resource allocation, decision making, problem-solving, and using data. OST provides youth with opportunities to develop these kinds of abilities and skills that the GED doesn’t test for and that academic classes don’t fully prepare them for—things like higher-ordered thinking, organization and communication skills. Youth need these life capacities as adults, in order to meet demands, confront challenges and lean into opportunities.
OST provides supervised, safe, and engaging environments (environments that are emotionally positive and warm and that provide support) where they can practice, develop and master these skills over time. These positive environments look like: personal attention from adults, a positive peer group, and activities that hold their interest and build their self-esteem. Within this context, quality OST programs provide leadership opportunities such as community service, youth councils, opportunities to design or lead activities, and paid youth staff positions.
These are the kinds of real world examples, applications and experiences that build transferrable skills like communication, problem solving, and teamwork.